Pelosi was right: Now we’re finally seeing what’s in the bill

Dustin Siggins Contributor
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Several weeks ago, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the health care bill had to be passed so “you can know what’s in it.” Conservatives pounced on the opportunity to hammer her, and the clip soon became a laughingstock.

Well, it turns out Pelosi was right—we did have to pass the bill to find out what was in it. Last week, it came out that the child-care insurance coverage touted by President Obama on numerous occasions was inaccurate—full elimination of pre-existing conditions for children will not take place until 2014. Fortunately for the administration, and unfortunately for Americans tired of the growth of government, the solution used by the administration to fix this is to have Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius implement a number of regulations to cover the mistake.

However, that’s not all. Rep. John Carter’s (R-Texas) office had a release last week explaining how the bill would exempt high-ranking officials in Congress—and their staffs—as well as the entire administration from participation in the bill. It would have been nice for the rest of us to know that. Carter is now calling for the exemption, which would include his staff, to be changed.

But wait, it gets worse—apparently, Democrats failed to note a few portions of the bill that would badly affect business, thus causing expected tax revenue to not appear and employees to be dropped from coverage. The bill will cost Caterpillar alone $100 million in its first year of passage, something Democrats ignored in their left-lunging frenzy.

The fourth—and probably not last—reported “Oops” Democrats made in not reading their own bill: a mandate on nutritional information for restaurant chains with 20 or more locations. This was reported last October in the original Senate bill, but was not reported in the final bill that passed until after it passed. Of the four, of course, this is the least onerous and dishonest…but let’s look at Ed Morrissey’s take on it (emphasis mine):

Davanni’s, a local pizzeria-sandwich restaurant with 22 locations around the Twin Cities, will now have to comply with this mandate. A caller to my Saturday show (who wished to remain anonymous) told my radio partner Mitch Berg during a commercial break that it will cost Davanni’s approximately $200,000 to comply with the new mandate — just to start. Every menu change will require Davanni’s to have the new or modified items re-analyzed, which means that Davanni’s will probably resist adding new options for their customers. Meanwhile, larger chains with more economy of scale for such efforts such as Pizza Hut can do the tests once for all of their locations, keeping their prices lower for their customers — which they already do, thanks to consumer demand for the information.

Under those circumstances, will Davanni’s feel compelled to keep the extra three locations open, or to scale back to 19 to avoid the mandate? Even if they do keep all of their locations, that $200,000 will now get spent on something other than new jobs for teenagers and adults, and customers will pay higher prices for their food. Local and regional chains with 15-19 locations have a big economic disincentive to expand any further. I don’t know much about Davanni’s bottom line, but I’m pretty sure that even though they make some of the best pizza and hoagies in the area, they don’t have $200,000 lying around the pizza sauce to blow on lab analyses this year, or any other.

As Peggy Noonan said on This Week, the polls are coming out, the people are still against the bill…and we still don’t know what’s in it. Unfortunately for Democrats, as George Will pointed out in the same segment of the show, this will be laid at the feet of the administration, which completely owns this bill and the devastation it will do to our country’s already-dire fiscal situation.

It will be tough to repeal this bill, both for public relations reasons—I can already see Pelosi and Obama asking Republicans if they really want to hurt those covered for their pre-existing conditions—as well as political ones, including the power of the presidential veto and the fact that it is the economy the public cares most about. However, Republicans should target the bill during this fall’s campaign, secondary to the economy, and while doing so follow the advice of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and go not just for repeal, but for repeal and replace. Particularly, replace with an effective, inexpensive set of reforms that get the government out of incentivizing higher cost and lower quality of care and insurance. This is what the people want, and it’s time Republicans showed they are listening to the American people—because Democrats sure aren’t.

Dustin is a political commentator who contributes to www.race42012.com and is the editor-in-chief for www.thelobbyist.net. He is a former intern with The Heritage Foundation, the former Assistant Director of Communications for a health care trade association, and is currently an intern for The Laura Ingraham Show